Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

by Gordon Dahlquist

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:52 am

The author deliberately does not place the story or locales in any particular city or country and uses a mixture of possible nationalities for the characters. Why do you think he left these to our imagination? Where did you envision the setting of the story?
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby Linda Lee » Tue Jan 06, 2009 11:11 am

My guess would be he left it to our imaginations so no one would go looking for the precious blue clay???? :grin: The more likely reason would be he could set up the city and its environs in any manner he wanted and did not have to stay within in any boundaries.


That said, I had forgotten that no specific setting was mentioned as I got farther into the book and thought the story was set in London, England and the surrounding countryside. My reasons start with the wealthy girl from the Islands, coming to the city to find a husband, the names Bascombe and Crabbe being in the foreign ministry.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jan 06, 2009 12:02 pm

Linda Lee, we certainly wouldn't want that clay falling into the wrong hands! :capnjack:

My first assumption was London and the countryside as well based on the descriptions of the settings. Then as other last names popped up that sounded less British I just picked anywhere in Western Europe. That makes it much more sinister to think more than one country was involved. Like you I eventually stopped thinking about a specific locale. That device did free the author from any specific boundaries or details and allowed the author and the reader to use our imaginations.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby ladylinn » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:36 pm

My first thought was placing the story in England. But further into the book I felt maybe Western Europe. I think the author not really saying the location lets all who read it place the location of the story in their own minds. Miss Temple maybe English. Dr. maybe German. Chang - a diverse character from many places. Interesting question.

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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby trygirl » Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:43 pm

Just like the rest of you, I first assumed the story was set in London but I didn't realize the author didn't name a specific city or country until later. But I'm glad he didn't. I like that the setting is not concrete and that the story can take you anywhere without you even realizing it. This allows the author the chance to fill the story with characters from all walks of life, all nationalities. The author, and the reader, are no longer constricted by reality…real people, real places, real customs. Your heroes and your villains can incorporate traits from different parts of the world without ever mentioning a specific spot. And what’s more scary than the world out to get you. To have an enemy you can’t recognize because they could be from anywhere or be anyone…a hodgepodge of people and a faceless enemy.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby IngridN » Tue Jan 06, 2009 2:15 pm

The author wanted to be free of specific boundaries so it would be easier for him to make things up without too much investigation.

For me the setting of the story is East Anglia and it’s coastline. I already had that thought from very early on in the book and East Anglia has salt marshes too!!

Also when you want to cross the sea by Zeppelin to Macklenburg (which in my imagination is the historical state of Mecklenburg, nowadays called Mecklenburg Vorpommern in North Eastern Germany) the east coast would be the best place to take off. Across the North Sea over The Netherlands to Mecklenburg in one straight line.

This region also makes sense because Doctor Svenson talks about the Baltic states which are A bit futher to the north east.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby Peachy » Tue Jan 06, 2009 3:32 pm

I too initially thought that the setting was Britain however I then realised that it was probably an imaginary country, even though some of the place names sound British (e.g. Stropping).

What I found intriuguing, though, was that the author mentions real places too - such as Venice.

As to the reason for the "imaginary setting" I think there could be various explanations: one may be to maintain the fantasy atmosphere, another could be to make the story accessible to anyone regardless of origin - it could even be a metaphor for globalisation.
I also like Trygirl's theory that it means the story can take us anywhere without us realising it.
or it could just simply be unintentional - it really does't matter, it could be anywhere, the characters and their motiviations are far more important than the time and the place.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby Jackslady » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:08 pm

I too, initially thought the story was set in London. Now I'm halfway through, I'm imagining in the locales as being "somewhere in Europe"! Wherever it is, I feel the chill as I'm reading. This could be because we're in the middle of the UK's coldest winter for years - but is more to do with how well Dahlquist intimates the dank, dark, often bitterly cold climate of northern Europe.

I would imagine the author thought that an indeterminate setting would add to the suspense of the tale. I love his imaginative take on names - particularly for railway stations!
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:23 pm

I, too, thought that the setting was in England, at first. But then as I continued to read my mind would go to places like Belgium, Luxumburg or Austria. I had a hard time with the fact that it is imaginary. When it comes to settings, I have this unusual need to have a realistic frame of reference to be able to visualize it in my mind as I read it.

This Glass Books trailer was just emailed to me this morning from Bantam Dell Publishing Group. Perfect timing for this question, as it gives us a visual.


[youtube]TN4iRRGBLvE[/youtube]
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby suec » Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:36 pm

Strangely enough, it never occurred to me that the setting might be Britain, despite Bacombe. It seemed very "foreign" to me and I certainly got waylaid by the notion of its being set in the past. I mentally wandered from American spellings of certain words to an island with slaves as the home of Miss Temple, to a vaguely Germanic state, prior to the unification of the country. Then I thought it probably wouldn't work out geographically because don't they have to travel north across the sea or along the sea? I can't say I checked it out on a map. By then, I had stoppd wondering about it and accepted it as a place that was never going to be identified, and as a fantasy world.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby teacher » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:20 pm

Same as many here: I first thought of London and the English countryside but because of the storyline itself rather than the actual description of the places. Well,you begin reading knowing it's a mystery. Also, the whole Miss Temple beginning looked, sounded, smelled and felt cold like something out of a Arthur Conan Doyle story, hense the British association.
I only realised it was a fictional place later on, and then it felt Germanic all the way because of the names of people and places and because of the character's manners and cultural associations.
Honestly, I have no idea why he chose a fictional place, in fact I wondered that while I was reading. It was vaguely frustrating at first, because I caught myself several times trying to trace character's movements. But then, that might be the reason tight there - he simply wanted to create architecture and nature in his mind's eye and not be guided by existing places. Infinitely more difficult, methinks.
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Jan 06, 2009 6:31 pm

Like everyone else, I thought England for many of the reasons already given here. And weren't Germans mentioned? Of course, that might not have a generic term rather than a reference to a geographic country as such.

I think it was a wise choice to leave the locale unspecified. One could have become too easily tangled up in facts that could have damaged the fantasy.

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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby Theresa » Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:23 pm

I was actually very frustrated by not having a location, at least at the start. I kept turning back pages to try and find the city's name. I though I had just missed it in my reading. Once I realized that the city wasn't a real place, then I was okay with it.

I never really thought London when I was reading. More in eastern Europe, like Lithuania or Latvia.

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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby gemini » Tue Jan 06, 2009 7:25 pm

Wow, I am not so used to reading our daily discussion with so many people already ahead of me. This should be a great discussion with so many opinions. :snoopydances:

I knew they were trying to steal the wealth of German Dukes and Princes so the location must be Europe and it was cold. All I really knew was that a dirigible or airship moved slow so when one possible destination was Germany, that narrowed where they were to somewhere in the North in Europe. To be honest I wasn't too curious because it was fiction.

I cheated a bit and did some reading on Dahlquist. Here is a link to one interview with him. Hope I am not spoiling a tidbit. If so, please feel free to delete my link. He does mention that Miss Temple is from the West Indies.

I thought his answer to what sign he was tells a lot about him and his writing style.
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I'm a Taurus — and since I am a Taurus, I think it's goes without saying that I'm perfectly happy with it and can't imagine wanting to be anything else, no matter how dull, stubborn, plodding, determined, or just "reliable" being a Taurus might turn out to be
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Re: Glass Books #2 ~ Setting?

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:18 pm

No problem with the interview, gemini. We are tidbitless this go 'round so the link to the interview is fine. It is interesting to read everyone's interpretations of the setting. Maybe that was Dahlquist's purpose, so each reader could identify in their own way and make the story more personal instead of worrying about the details of somewhere they might not be familiar with. :-?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!


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